Spoon River Anthology

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Edgar Lee Masters Spoon River Anthology was performed brilliantly last night, outdoors, by the Citadel Theater, at the Bushwood Center at Ryerson Woods in Riverwoods. The beautiful setting, the riveting poetic language of the Anthology, the strong acting and the enchanting music made for a magical evening. I highly recommend it, but the Citadel Theater on Tour has a limited engagement at Ryerson and two other venues, so try to make your reservations as soon as possible at CitadelTheatre.org.
There will be two additional performances tonight and tomorrow, July 30 and 31 at Ryerson. Then there are three performances at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, on the evenings of August 5, 6, and 7. There will be one additional performance on August 14 at Elawa Farm in Lake Forest. All performances begin at 7pm.

The 2016 Man Booker Longlist Is Announced

The 2016 Man Booker Prize longlist has just been announced:

Author, Nationality, Title of Book

Paul Beaty (US) The Sellout
J.M. Coetzee (South African-Australian) The Schooldays of Jesus
A.L. Kennedy (UK) Serious Sweet
Deborah Levy (UK) Hot Milk
Graeme Macrae Burnet (UK) His Bloody Project
Ian McGuire (UK) The North Water
David Means (US) Hystopia
Wyl Menmuir (UK) The Many
Ottessa Moshfegh (US) Eileen
Virginia Reeves (US) Work Like Any Other
Elizabeth Strout (US) My Name is Lucy Barton
David Szalay (Canada-UK) All That Man Is
Madeleine Thien (Canada) Do Not Say We Have Nothing

2016 Man Booker Prize Longlist To Be Announced Tomorrow

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It’s that time of year again! The 2016 Man Booker Prize longlist will be announced tomorrow at noon London time. Those of you who have been reading this blog over the last five years know that I post frequently on the competition, including reviews of the selections. Those among you who wager, please take note that I have picked the last two winners, so following my blog might be advantageous to you. I’ll be up tomorrow morning at 6:00 am Chicago time posting the longlist.

Shadab Zeest Hashmi


My friend Rizwan Kadir invited me to the American Islamic College last Thursday evening to a poetry reading by Pakistani-American poet Shadab Zeest Hashmi. I was so impressed with the power and imagery of her poetry. She read from her two collections, Baker of Tarifa and Kohl and Chalk. I had the honor to participate in the reading of one of her poems.
Her poems are often historical and political. Sometimes calming, sometimes explosive. She’s a brilliant poet, a unique voice among American Muslim women. I hope that the next time she visits Chicago, she can read to a wider audience, perhaps at the Poetry Foundation.

My James Joyce Courses Next Fall

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I will be teaching two courses on the writings of James Joyce during the fall semester at the Oakton Community College Emeritus Program. The first focuses on The Dubliners, a collection of short stories, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a novel of self-discovery. This course runs six weeks on Tuesday mornings; beginning on October 18 and ending November 22, and starting at 10 and ending at 11:30.
My Ulysses course is Tuesday afternoon; also beginning on October 18 and goes for ten weeks through December 20, starting at 12:00 and ending at 2:00. Ulysses is arguably the greatest novel ever written in the English language.
Please consider enrolling and be sure to share this with friends who might be interested. You can register online by visiting http://www.oakton.edu/conted.

Discussion of Floyd Dell’s Moon-Calf at the Cliff Dwellers

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Although he lived in Chicago for just five years, from 1908-13 (the 1910 census indicated that he lived at 1307 Morse in Rogers Park), Floyd Dell had a significant role in the emergence of the Chicago Literary Renaissance, especially in his role as editor of the Friday Weekly Review. Dell, who was inducted into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame last year, was a colleague and literary advocate for both Carl Sandburg and Sherwood Anderson. Dell’s first novel Moon-Calf was the second best-selling novel America in 1920, only bested by Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street.
Moon-Calf will be discussed at the Cliff Dwellers book club on July 23. It is an excellent fictive account of a young Midwest journalist who recognizes the career limitations of small town life, and ultimately heads to Chicago to fulfill his potential.
Join us at the Cliff Dwellers on the 23th. The discussion is free and open to the public, and starts at 11:00 a.m. Stay for lunch and enjoy the beautiful 22nd floor view at the Cliff Dwellers, located at 200 S. Michigan, across the street from the Art Institute.